With George Karl putting pen to paper on a new three-year (with a team option for three additional years) extension to coach the Denver Nuggets, let us look to the past to educate us on the future.


“So Doc? You’re telling me you built a time machine … out of a Delorean?”

Marty McFly – Back to the Future

With all due respect to Huey Lewis and the News, we at Denver Stiffs are gonna go Back in Time to examine a series that was one of the highest points for the Denver Nuggets, and lowest for our newly extended coach Karl. The 1994 Western Conference Quarterfinals series between the Denver Nuggets (eighth-seed) and the Seattle Supersonics (one-seed).

Watch Game Here

I chose Game 4 because, in my mind, this was the best game each team played. The first two in Seattle the Nuggets were just playing like they were scared of the big stage. In Game 3 the Supersonics were coasting because they thought they had the series wrapped up. In Game 5 the Sonics were desperate and played as such (even though the game went to overtime). So, Game 4 is the truest example of what the Sonics were capable of that year. Back in Time in 1985 … I mean 1994. Yeah.

The Sonics were built around a trapping defense, their half court offense predicated on isolation’s mainly from Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf and three-point shooting from Kendal Gill, Nate MacMillan and sweet shooting Sam Perkins (you don’t need 1.21 gigawats of plutonium to understand that team, Nuggets fans). A team that used a fastbreak offense set up from their tough defense with “The Glove” Gary Payton. We can draw some correlations from this new-look Nuggets team to that particular Sonics team.

First off, it’s very clear that if their isolation’s weren’t working, their offense could fall apart. Think, McFly. THINK. However, when it was working it seemed like that fed their defense, which again produced fastbreak offense. While this Nuggets team is nowhere near as talented as that Sonics team, we understand where these players fit. George Karl has already described Danilo Gallinari as someone who reminds him of Schrempf (not sure I agree). Nene is definitely Kemp without the attitude problem and killer instinct. Kenyon Martin could easily be Michael Cage, tough on defense and limited on offense. Arron Afflalo as Kendal Gill? If AAA improves his consistency then I’d buy it. The only place where it falls apart is the point guard slot, where Payton was an All NBA defensive player every year … Ty Lawson not so much. So why don’t you make like a tree … and get outta here.

The irony is the Nuggets beat the Sonics by clogging the paint with Mutumbo (watching that video REALLY makes you appreciate Deke a lot … he was all world defensively) and shutting down their two primary scorers in the last three games (Schremph and Kemp). With the current Nuggets that is a possibility as well. As we saw in Los Angeles against the Clippers, when everyone goes cold at once it’s hard to get that extra push over the hump … or a lightning bolt of electricity from a clock tower, for instance. While the Nuggets defense against the Clippers (as with the Sonics in Game 4) was superb, the offense couldn’t overcome the poor Nuggets shooting.

It’s interesting to look back as events in the past can educate us on the future. That Sonics team would go on to play the Chicago Bulls a couple years later in the NBA Finals. Let’s hope that is what’s in store for the Nuggets future as well.

But wait … could it be … the power of love? Look here to find out.

Now for some Wednesday morning links!

Nuggets Related

Nuggets’ coach George Karl signs three-year contract extension – Chris Dempsey, Denver Post
As previously mentioned, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl signed a three year extension on Tuesday with options for more seasons.

Karl, Nuggets agree to three-year extension – Ken Berger, CBSSports.com
Ken Berger talks to George Karl’s attorney Bret Adams (met him, nice guy) about the new deal brokered for the coach of the Nuggets.

Injuries putting a wrinkle in Nuggets’ coach Karl’s game planning – Chris Dempsey, Denver Post
Chris Dempsey talks about how George Karl has to be creative with all the New Era Nuggets injuries.

Paige: No-name Nuggets have got game – Woody Paige, Denver Post
Woody Paige talks about the Nuggets lack of star power, and their remarkable ability to win. Lets hope it lasts into the playoffs.

NBA Related

Channing Frye of Phoenix Suns out 2-3 weeks with dislocated shoulder – ESPN
News that benefits the Nuggets for Thursday’s game in Phoenix, Channing Frye will be out for a 2-3 weeks with a dislocated right shoulder.

Cuban would trade for Wolves Ricky Rubio ‘in a heartbeat’ – Charley Walters, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Apparently Mark Cuban like’s him some Rubio. Tells you all you need to know about this article.

Have a great morning everyone!

Jeff Morton
email: [email protected]